|Sun 7th December||Christingle Service (including collection of toys and gifts for needy children)||3.00pm|
|Sun 14th December||Advent Communion (including collection of toys and gifts for needy children)||11.00am|
|Sun 21st December||Carols by Candlelight||4.00pm|
|Christmas Eve||Crib Service
Joint Midnight Communion Service at St Matthew's
|Christmas Day||Joint Christmas Communion Service at St Matthew's||10.00am|
|Sun 28th December||Joint Christmas Communion Service at St John the Baptist||10.00am|
|Sun 4th January||All-Age Coimmunion Service||11.00am|
* Children's Church is always available at the 11.00am service.
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal.
What does the Church do in December? We celebrate Christmas, of course - officially that is not until 25th, but it tends to spill over into the earlier parts of the month, with carol services, carol singing, Nativity plays in schools and so on. All that can lead us to forget that what we are actually supposed to be doing is keeping Advent - a time of waiting for the coming of Christ.
The text above is the Collect - the special prayer - for Advent Sunday, and it reminds us of what we are to do in this season. A very important word in the prayer is 'now'. If we think about the time when we are looking forward to a family Christmas, we can see that waiting for a special occasion does not mean just sitting about doing nothing until it happens. We may not be able to bring forward the date when the visiting relatives arrive, but we know that we must be preparing presents, baking a cake, decorating the tree, and so on, so that everything may be ready to welcome them.
The Church's task in Advent is 'to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light', as we prepare once more to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem. Our example is his own life of 'great humility', of loving service to people in need, of forming a community of disciples who would carry on his work without looking for power and status for themselves.
And in Advent we are looking forward not only to the yearly repetition of Christmas, but also to the coming of Christ in judgment and the establishment of God's Kingdom, when the truth of every heart will be revealed.
We cannot hasten the time of that coming, but we can prepare for it, by allowing ourselves to be transformed, as individuals and as a church community, into the likeness of the loving, serving, humble Christ.
A fruitful Advent and a happy and blessed Christmas to you all.Rosemary CHN